Home > Uncategorized > How I Spent My Spring Break!

How I Spent My Spring Break!

I am finally back from a 2 and ½ week trip to Yap and Chuuk. The scuba gear is soaking in the basement, the photos have been transferred to the computer, the larder has been replenished, and the white russians have been poured. I love traveling, and I love the exotic locations I get to travel to, but there is always something nice about coming home again. I’ll get a chance to visit my mother, see some friends (yes, I do have some), and enjoy high water pressure.

That having been said, I was very lucky to be able to go to Micronesia. The people in Yap are very friendly and polite, and they actually enjoy sharing their culture with tourists. The stone money that they are famous for was absolutely intriguing. I had a wonderful visit with one village where we watched some traditional crafts, a traditional dance, and ate some of their fare. We were hosted by the wife of the village chief, who had a very cute daughter. That’s them in the photo below.

The people of Chuuk were equally friendly and polite. The only time I didn’t get greeted when passing someone was when that someone was another American. She looked right through me as we passed one morning, and completely ignored my cheery “good morning!” The local people were also some of the hardest working and knowledgeable dive-masters and boat captains I’ve met.

The diving was excellent for some things, less so for others. In Yap, the Mantas were spectacular. The young ones, some 4-5 feet across, were like youngsters of all species. Full of energy, reckless, and curious. Every so often a group of three or four would strafe us, almost close enough to knock our masks off. That would usually be followed by an adult, some up to 15 feet across, cruising over us, giving us the gimlet eye. Other than the Mantas, I found the reefs in Yap to be less than thrilling. They were uniformly devoid of any significant fish life; the local boat captain joked that it was because the locals had eaten them all. The coral was almost all brown, and there was a large number of crown-of-thorns starfish. These starfish are a plague upon the reefs, eating everything without distinction, and they have no known predators. The locals will occasionally go out and collect as many as they can, bring them to shore, and burn them. I fear it’s a losing fight, like ours against the lion fish.

The wrecks in Chuuk, formerly known as Truk, are still there, although every year they seem to deteriorate further. While I was there, the bow section fell off one of the ships. The amount of life, though, continues to increase. As I said to one diver, “If you didn’t know this was a wreck, you wouldn’t know it was a wreck.” It seems that the number of artifacts is declining as well.

On almost every wreck, divers have set up a display on top of the wreck, in an area easily accessible to all divers. These displays contain items that the divers have found inside the wrecks. A diver might find a teapot, for example. Left alone in the interior of the ship, it would be covered by silt, and disappear. So, it gets brought out of the ship, and put on display. These displays include munitions, weapons, books, clothing, and china, among other things. This trip, it seems that a lot of stuff has disappeared. There was on one ship, a beautiful teapot with lid.(pictured below) That’s gone. On another, there was a newspaper, still in readable condition, although if you were to touch it, it would disintegrate before your eyes. Gone as well. I believe it’s time for a massive recovery effort to bring up all the salvageable things, and put them in a museum. If not, they may disappear forever.

The thing that continues to puzzle me is this. How could a culture that produces such beauty, as evinced by the teapot, also have produced some of the worst brutality in history, like the Rape of Nanking or the Bataan Death March? While we are all aware of people with crippled personalities. Is it possible that an entire nation could have cripple personalities? I don’t know, but it continues to puzzle me.

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